A commentary on the use of the color red in Lisa Dordal’s poem, “I. Intersection”
Red not only provides a set tone for the poem, a filter through which to experience it, but also a catalyst for change within the story of the poem. In the beginning, the red of the spilled meat marks the transition to the next scene, and while it is a small transition, it parallels a much larger shift within the narrator’s mother. In the clarity provided by the red stoplight and the stillness and solitude of the intersection, there is a pivotal moment both between the narrator and the narrator’s mother and within the mother herself: a response to the question “Have you ever thought you might be…” (ln. 9), in defense, “It wasn’t an option” (ln. 13). For the narrator, the question is really, Are you like me? and the answer is a “…revelation carrying the whole sinewy weight of non-being.” (ln. 18-19). They recognize this exact feeling of hiding within and from themself that has consumed their mother for so long, and that once consumed them. They chose protection from the weight of being gay (a perceived respite), but in doing this hid away an intrinsic part of their being that became heavier with each denial of its existence. It is here, where the two are “looking straight” in the lucidity of the red stoplight, we are reminded of the first two lines of the poem. For the mother, the narrator’s question is a revelation. The death of the fridge, another catalyst, resembles the end of the mother’s hidden-self phase of life and spilling of the bright, contagious meat her choice and need to come out to her daughter.